88. WHO updates exercise needs in light of pandemic

Uncategorized Dec 03, 2020

By: Michael Beiter

The World Health Organization just updated their physical activity guidelines for the first time in ten years. 

This was in part a response to the global pandemic which has influenced more people to remain sedentary and exposed that those who are overweight or obese have an increased risk of severe illness or hospitalization from Covid-19. 

There are three main updates to previous exercise suggestions. The first is that there is no longer a minimum amount needed - any exercise is better than no exercise. In the past they had encouraged a very low amount of cardio respiratory exercise to combat sedentary lifestyles. Now they say anything you do that gets you up from being seated is better than staying with your butt planted. 

The second is that they added strength training exercise to the suggestions for adults age 18 and up. Before their focus was primarily on cardiorespiratory exercise. Now they recognize the value of two or more muscle strengthening sessions weekly. 

Lastly, they recognized the benefit of exercise for our heart, body, and mind.

While these suggestions may seem like no-brainers for those of us with fitness focuses they represent progress in the global health crisis we are facing in that exercise is one of the best possible remedies for staying healthy during a pandemic. Furthermore, they are much closer to lining up with our universal suggestion of one hour daily spread across either resistance training, aerobic work, or recovery work. 

The WHO is concerned with longevity and suggests exercise is also one of the best activities for increasing the duration and quality of your life. They are strongly influenced by the new data from wearable fitness trackers that factor into their revised suggestions. This data which analyzed some 50,000 participants wearing accelerometers found that the middle aged and older wearers in Europe and the United States sat for 10 hours a day with many of them barely moving and exercising as little as 2 or 3 minutes per day by walking. 

Wow. If those statistics don't jump off the page and get you thinking about exercise I don't know what will. 

Keep up with your hour per day, 10,000 steps, and resistance training focus. The WHO is now in line with our position. 



Bull FCAl-Ansari SSBiddle S, et al
World Health Organization 2020 guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour


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